by Sev Pearman
Who is Dick Mann? A quick poll of riders told me that while almost everyone knows him as “that racer,” few know the depth of his achievements. Mann of His Time is a pleasant history of Dick the rider, racer and gentleman.
Simply said, Dick Mann is the best rider that America has produced. With top-ten finishes in all forms of racing over almost twenty years as an AMA pro, he is untouchable as a racer. Mann came of age in an era where the #1 Plate was determined by your abilities in all forms of racing. To be successful, you had to have talent on short track, half-mile and mile flattracks, TT courses and road racecourses. There were certainly better flattrack riders and more consistent road racers than Dick Mann, but no one won more races in all disciplines for as many years as Dick Mann.
After his retirement from the Grand National Series in ’72, Dick Mann warmly embraced the future of motorcycle racing in America, motocross. Youngblood gives a juicy account of the explosion of motocross with riders, and the AMA’s reluctance to accommodate it. He details Mann’s transition from rider to riders advocate, and illustrates how Mann helped shape motocross race policy in this country that is still felt today.
In many ways, Mr. Youngblood is the perfect biographer for Dick Mann. A lifelong motorcyclist, he grew up following Mann’s unequaled racing career. Further, with his 28 years at the AMA, he witnessed many of the described battles over race rules and policy as they happened. The author has unsurpassed access to AMA archives and this level of thoroughness and detail fills every chapter.
Unfortunately, these details bog down the text. While race results are an important part of Dick Mann’s story, I grew tired of following the Grand National points standings for every race in 1967. This level of detail would read better in an official AMA race history or Chronology of the Grand National Series. I was left wanting more anecdotes about Mann himself.
Don’t let that dissuade you from buying this book. Mann of His Time is an exciting account of the best motorcycle racer in any form that we have seen in America. Three out of four cylinders.
Dick Who? – Action-filled account of our Michael Jordan of Motorcycling.
Disgruntled former AMA racers – More Mann; less AMA history.
AMA Members – Dense chronology of relevant AMA racing history.